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From the creative step to detailed plans

X27_1_chair379398_960_7201.jpg A thorough strategic analysis provides detailed information about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, but it has to be turned into ideas and plans that can take the business forwards within the constraints and needs identified during analysis. This needs insight and creativity - what we call "The Creative Step" combining imagination and problem solving with a thorough understanding of capabilities and resources to form a plan of priorities and investment needs for the future.

Strategic analysis can tell you what to consider and what your options are, but typically it doesn't tell you what to do. What to do requires a leap of imagination, or a burst of creativity that will identify the ideal strategy - something that is simple, robust, lasting and effective.

To seek out such a strategy, we use a process called the "Creative Step". This is a series of workshop based processes that are used to develop, and importantly, critique strategies that are open, in order to identify the key routes forward.

The Creative Step is based on working through

  • Where you are now
  • Developing market scenarios
  • Developing potential responses
  • Strategy synthesis

Typically this involves intense initial workshops, followed up with a review and concerns session to allow for ideas to settle and implications to be thought through in detail. Creativity has to be grounded in the analysis, and so framed in problem solving and identifying paths and forecasts to make the solutions happen.


The Creative Step starts from where you are now. The evidence gathered from the strategic analysis is used to sketch the current situation and identify existing trends and pressures on your market.

Then to fully explore your strategic options, collectively we build a number of market scenarios, based on the strategic analysis and blue sky thinking. Each market scenario describes what customers are buying and what competitors are doing sometime into the future (three to five years). We critique the scenarios to try and identify how likely each is to come to pass and give each scenario a probability rating.

For each market scenario we then look at your potential responses. How would you tackle the market in each scenario? As each market response has a cost and logistical and timescale issues that need to be take into consideration as well as an expected return from the market and some form of competitive reaction, so we look to draw out the elements that would produce the best result for each scenario.

These individual answers paint a picture separately, but the final stage is to draw the strands together - strategy synthesis. This is to build a strategy that is robust in the face of changing market conditions, whilst being flexible enough to allow for change and is simple to communicate and articulate.

The Creative Step workshops include a series of free flow brainstorms followed by hard critiques and to help facilitate development of the scenarios. Typically the workshops take place over a series of weeks to allow for thinking, additional research and mulling.

The aim is not just to have an idea, but to have the direction grounded in the analysis, and routes to an answer - how to do it in terms of people, skills, suppliers, technologies and investment requirements.

The final strategy should be a credible, resonant and relevant "story of the future" from which a detailed implementation plan can be created as part of the planning for implementation phase.

For help and advice on the process of strategic analysis and market planning and creative responses to your market needs contact info@dobney.com


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